Flora MacDonald

Flora MacDonald, Scottish heroine,1722-1790

One of the most romantic characters in Scottish history, Flora MacDonald helped Bonnie Prince Charlie flee for his life after the defeat of the Jacobite uprising in 1746. At just 24 years old and engaged to be married, she bravely commandeered a boat and crew from her step-father’s militia to take the Prince, disguised as an Irish spinning maid, to the Isle of Skye. The Prince would make it safely back to France, but MacDonald was imprisoned briefly in England. The adventure is immortalized in “Skye Boat Song,” from 1885. The famous poet Samuel Johnson, an admirer of MacDonald, would compose her epitaph, writing “Her name will be mentioned in history and if courage and fidelity be virtues, mentioned with honour.” 

After the famous boat expedition, MacDonald would go on to have a life of adventure and bravery with her husband, Allan MacDonald. The pair emigrated to North Carolina with their older children at the height of the American Revolution to establish a family plantation. Her husband joined the fighting on the side of the British and was captured and imprisoned while McDonald went into hiding. In 1779 she was returning to Scotland with a daughter, when their ship was attacked by French privateers and MacDonald was injured because she refused to go below deck. She and her husband were reunited eventually, but her name is inextricably linked to Bonnie Prince Charlie. She is said to have been buried in one of his bedsheets.


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